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B2B Marketing Trends: GDPR… sooo 2018?

Chris Woolcott Director 13 June 2019

The modern world is rife with uncertainty. Is the UK ever going to leave the EU? Will people really pay $999 dollars for a computer stand? Will ‘Tony Stark’ be able to save us from climate change via the magic of artificial intelligence?

But one of life’s great mysteries, one which we must regularly contend with, remains largely unsolved - what really does go on in the brain of a B2B marketer
Back in 2017 we set out with B2B marketing to find the answer. What we actually found was that there were two areas that sat at the forefront of the B2B markers mind:

  • Customer experience 51% (scoring 9 or 10 on a 10 point scale)
  • Marketing automation 35%

Over the year it come into force, GDPR had shot up to become the number one focus area for marketers."

Industry-wide Trends

These were consistent across client-side marketers and agencies, suggesting they truly were to be the key driving forces of the industry in the years to come. Looming in third place however was ‘data privacy’ – specifically GDPR (32%), which was set to come into force midway through the following year.

We since revisited the B2B marketing community at the end of 2018, eager to find out whether their priorities had changed in the previous 12 months, to find a dramatically different landscape. Over the year it come into force, GDPR had shot up to become the number one focus area for marketers (35%) – trumping even customer experience (29%).

The Ghost of Regulation Past

The spectre of fines, the fear of decimated marketing lists and the worry of having to scramble to provide PII became the thing that marketers – arguably rightly so – became more obsessed with than efficiency and experience. Statistics abounded touting how few businesses were ‘ready’ and it was clearly festering in the minds of those who would be most impacted.

But that was 2018…

When we asked marketers what they expected to be their focus for 2019, normality was restored"

What has happened since? Does GDPR remain an issue keeping marketers on their toes in their day and waking in a cold sweat at night? The general consensus seems to think otherwise – that perhaps it’s predominantly been a flash in the pan.

A New Dawn?

When we asked marketers what they expected to be their focus for 2019, normality was restored – with customer experience set to shoot back to the top of the tree, followed by marketing automation again (52% and 42% respectively).

The sense from B2B Marketers is that GDPR was a pain to implement but is now mostly dealt with – the worst is over – and they can get on with their lives. In fact, looking at articles in leading marketing publications such as B2B Marketing or The Drum, there’s a clear drop off in the number of articles mentioning GDPR since we’ve moved into 2019.

While we do hear stories of fines being levied against some big names, broadly speaking the consensus seems to be that GDPR has had and will have less of an impact on the day-to-day lives of marketers than had been anticipated – beyond ensuring an obligatory pop-up on the website confirming that we do in fact ‘care about your privacy’.

Marketers didn’t expect to forget about GDPR in 2019 – it’s still one of the top things they’re thinking about – but we’ll await to see come the end of the year when we next delve into the mind of the B2B marketer, whether it truly does turn out to be as they’re predicting – a 2018 issue.

If you work in B2B marketing, or simply need to understand your industry better get in touch below, or via [email protected] to find out how we can help!